With the release of Iration’s fourth album, Hotting Up, last year the band saw their greatest success to date. They played at festivals like Outside Lands and have seen the size of the crowds at their show swell to their largest point. A new element that the band incorporated was lead guitarist Micah Brown. The Huntington Beach resident joined the Santa Barbara outfit in 2013 following the release of Automatic and has been entrenched in the lineup ever since.
With the band performing at the sold out One Love Cali Reggae Festival this weekend, we caught up with Brown just before he headed into a final rehearsal at the band’s HQ in Santa Barbara to see what’s been going on with the band and what local OC influences he helped incorporate onto Hotting Up.
It seems like things have been going well since the release of the new album and you guys have been playing in front of your biggest headlining crowds to date. What about it has resonated with people?
Micah Brown: Usually it takes a couple of tours for a new album to really resonate. There’s still a lot of fans discovering the previous albums or love the album from a couple of years back. The last time we were just out, we could definitely see that the new songs were becoming the favorites, and they’re fun to play live.
That has to be reassuring that the songs are catching on and that fans have become familiar and confident in you guys to the point where they’re connecting to what you’re doing so fast.
It’s definitely reassuring. It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking to put out new music and when people respond to it, it’s pretty positive.
What was it like recording your first album with the band?
I joined the band when Automatic was released in 2013, and they were getting ready to tour on that. This was the first album where used a different producer and a different studio. It was a whole new production team and as a session musician, I work at a studio in Costa Mesa too, so I brought that co-producing vibe that made sure that everything was coming together nicely. It was definitely a good new mix.
What are the biggest differences between session stuff and being a full-time bandmember?
It’s a cool new avenue to pursue as an artist and a musician. I love the creativity of being in the studio and being able to focus on one thing and being in a band that already has a passionate following. Being able to add my own flavor to that and make it a little bit different but adding on to what they already have, it’s a fun experience to see that happen. Hotting Up was a good example of that where were did some different harmonies and guitar leads that were a new fresh flavor that wasn’t there before, but wasn’t changing up the formula that they already have.
What types of local OC influences did you bring?
There’s more of a straightforward rock element. There’s a pretty good indie rock scene in Orange County. The funny thing is that working at 17th Street Studios, we work with a lot of reggae bands, but one of the only reggae bands we haven’t had is Iration, so it was kind of ironic that I joined that band. I think my style is bluesier and folkier. Those guys are very schooled in roots reggae and traditional roots music, and isn’t something I grew up listening to.
How has the OC reggae rock scene flourished in recent years?
It’s definitely become one of our biggest markets when we sold out the OC Fair last summer and is one of the biggest venues we sold out across the country. I think it’s that cool Southern California beach lifestyle and our music resonates with that a lot, so it’s a natural fit.